Guinea opened their Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win over a spirited Malawi side.
The only goal came when left-back Issiaga Sylla slotted in 10 minutes before the break after good hold-up play by striker Jose Kante.
Yet the West Africans had keeper Aly Keita to thank for a string of saves in their Group B encounter in Bafoussam.
He pushed over three long-range strikes in the first half and later bravely dived at the feet of Yamikani Chester.
Guinea, captained by Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, join Senegal at the top of the group on three points after the Teranga Lions beat Zimbabwe earlier on Monday.
Malawi, appearing at their first Nations Cup since 2010, were composed on the ball and had a glorious chance to take the lead from a one-on-one but striker Chester scuffed his shot straight at Keita.
Guinea then saw defender Ibrahima Sory Conte head against the upright before Sylla broke the deadlock.
Keeper Keita had to be alert to keep out Micium Mhone’s 30-yard drive, Limbikani Mvaza’s 35-yard free-kick and Peter Banda’s curling effort from outside the box before Malawi’s Ernest Kakhobwe made a smart double-save to deny Aguibou Camara at the end of the first half.
After Chester was denied again just before the hour mark, Flames forward Khuda Muyaba sent another good opportunity straight at Keita.
Both sides were without players because of positive Covid-19 tests, but Malawi were only able to name four substitutes and have called up several reserve players to bolster their squad.
Tournament rules state sides must play if they have 11 fit players – even if they have no recognised goalkeeper.
Guinea face 2019 runners-up Senegal and Malawi take on Zimbabwe on Friday.